Liberal Democrats are calling for Cambridge City Council to start mapping out Cambridge’s future after the pandemic. In their budget proposals published today, the council’s Opposition tables a series of changes to the Labour administration’s draft budget, pointing to their priorities in the local elections later this year.
The Lib Dem amendment seeks to take advantage of falling interest rates to fund a package which would:
- Raise the council’s profile in the fight against climate change
- Improve public open spaces
- Plan for a low-traffic city
- Harness increased public enthusiasm to contribute to the city’s wellbeing
While the Labour council wants to reduce the number of public toilets in Cambridge, the Lib Dems instead want to invest in and improve them. They are also asking the council not to make cuts to its Customer Services, until councillors can be sure it will serve the public better and leave nobody disadvantaged if they don’t have internet access or are easily confused by voice-activated phone services.
The individual Lib Dem proposals are as follows:
- Exploring a redevelopment of the Queen Anne Terrace Car Park, primarily for housing
- Developing an investment programme to refurbish and modernise public toilets, rather than removing them
- Launching a campaign to promote effective recycling and help minimise waste across the city through public engagement
- A Children’s Tree programme, in partnership with city primary schools, gifting all year 4 pupils a tree to plant
- An education campaign to discourage drivers from leaving their engines idling when out of traffic
- Promoting examples of high standards of sustainability and retrofit in buildings in the city through enhancement of the council’s architectural and design awards
- Assisting the recovery of cultural events after the pandemic, by keeping rather than closing the Arts Distribution Service
- Ensuring that any steps towards taking the council’s Customer Services online do not further complicate residents contacting their council
- Expanding cycling and walking grants and finally recruiting an Active Trade Officer, complementing other initiatives supporting active travel during the pandemic recovery
- Expanding the provision of water fountains across the city
- Re-equipping the play area on Scotland Road Recreation Ground, and developing a priority list of play areas for refurbishments across the city.
Councillor Jamie Dalzell, Lib Dem Finance spokesperson said:
“We realise the tough challenges facing our council at this time and we appreciate there are difficult financial decisions that must be faced. However, there are proposals within the Labour budget which risk stripping away core council services and undermining the city’s recovery after Covid. This gives them a chance to think again.
“We have framed our own proposals around lessons from the pandemic which must be applied as we seek to urgently address the continuing crisis of climate change.
"We must recognise the immense value of public open space in our city. We must prepare now to lock in the advantages of a low traffic city, avoiding the return of congestion and pollution on our streets. We must also continue to harness the strength of our community; supporting and enabling local businesses and volunteer groups to pull together as they have done throughout the challenges of lockdown.
“An example of several of these themes is our plan to engage households in a ‘zero waste challenge’ through recycling, upcycling and smart purchasing - sharing what they learned. The goal is to fight climate change by safeguarding resources with a more circular economy by unleashing people power.”